Mother aims to save son's sculpture

City says late Steven Harmon's 'Cathexis' piece needs to be repaired before it can return to Riddle Field. A fundraiser is Saturday.

May 02, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
(Courtesy Alice…)

The mother of the late Steven Harmon has about two more months to raise the funds to repair the sculpture he created and donated to the city.

"Cathexis" was removed from the entrance to Riddle Field when city officials determined it posed a danger to the public.

It now sits in the Laguna Canyon studio waiting to be repaired — if Alice Harmon can raise $8,000 for repairs by June 27.

"The sculpture has to be sandblasted, the damaged panels repaired, dipped in acid, galvanized and painted," Alice Harmon said.

The city's Arts Commission decided a year ago to eliminate the deteriorated sculpture from the city's collection, a process call de-accession.

A similar situation occurred when the artist who created the sculpture that preceded "The People's Council" by Fire Station One declined to repair his work, on which the water feature had never worked properly. It was removed from the site and the city's collection of Art in Public Places.


"Cathexis" was donated, not purchased by the city as public art, but donated or purchased art may be restored from city funds, commission chairwoman Mary Ferguson said.

However, the city had already spent about $3,000 on "Cathexis" from its restoration fund and the commission felt it could not spend any more public funds for restoration or maintenance of the sculpture.

"We all love the piece and had empathy for Alice, but we couldn't justify spending more than the value of the sculpture," Ferguson said. "And the maintenance would have been ongoing."

Nothing happened until earlier this year when the often photographed intertwined metal sculpture that some likened to a giant Christmas ornament was removed from Riddle Field.

The city code requires removal of art that might endanger the public. Children who played at Riddle Field were known to clamber on the sculpture.

"At the April 9 meeting the commission agreed the piece could be reinstated if Alice agreed to a contract with the city to take over the maintenance, which she did," Ferguson said.

Harmon has set up a Save the Harmon Sculpture account at Bank of America, to which donations may be made, and a fundraiser will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday. A donation of $15 is requested, which includes food, drinks and bluegrass music by T E D.

Mayor Jane Egly extolled the beauty of the sculpture and its cultural benefit to the community Tuesday night at the City Council meeting.

"I encourage people to attend the fundraiser [and/or] contribute," said Egly. "We in North Laguna miss it."

For more information and the location of the fundraiser, email visit, or call (949) 494-8219 from 7 to 9 p.m.

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